School of Pharmacy receives $3 million to study genetic links to depression

Cyrus Nuval
Staff Writer

VCU’s School of Pharmacy has received a $3 million grant to continue research into genetic markers in human DNA that may predict chronic depression.

The Center for Biomarker Research and Personalized Medicine of VCU’s School of Pharmacy received the grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to discover better and more tailored ways to treat depression. The grant was officially received on Sept. 1.

Edwin Van Den Oord, director of the Center for Biomarker Research and Personalized Medicine, said the grant is very important to the research being conducted at the center.

“Without the grant there is no way we could do this,” Van Den Oord said.

Karolina Aberg, associate director of the program, said the grant will allow them the potential to make new discoveries and develop novel theories in the fields of genetics and psychology.

“This methylome-wide research is very novel and is a valuable complement to more traditional genetics investigations,” Aberg said. “With this new grant we will be able to carefully explore a very interesting hypothesis that inherited components and environmental components may influence a regulatory molecule connected to the DNA sequence.”

Savanah Atkins, a sophomore biology major, said she understands depression and the pharmaceutical treatments for depression on a personal level.

“My mom is a director of a pharmacy so I understand how medications are rarely, if never, one size fits all,” said Atkins. “A lot of mental disorders run in my family … so any time I hear that the school or someone is doing research into stuff like that, I always am all for it and I hope they can find something that helps.”

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